Toothless Lions mauled by the Blues

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14 Mar 2020
Toothless Lions mauled by the Blues

A rampant Blues outfit proved to much for a low in confidence Lions side in their Super Rugby clash at Eden Park on Saturday.

The hosts were superb on both attack and defence as they picked apart a struggling Lions team, recorded their third consecutive victory.

Springbok fly-half Elton Jantjies didn't have the best opening minutes, missing a penalty and throwing a forward pass, handing possession to a dangerous Blues side that made inroads rather quickly.

After kicking for the corner following another Lions infringement, the Blues enjoyed lighting fast ball and All Black winger Reiko Ioane would prove too big and too strong to stop from close range.

Ten minutes later, the Lions struck back via centre Daniel Kriel. They enjoyed a period of sustained possession in the Blues 22m and after a couple lineout drives, they trusted their back line to get to job done. Kriel ran over one defender and rode a tackle to score the try from 4m out.

A racking deep kick from the Blues put the Lions on the back foot, they then attempted a quick lineout throw which would end up backfiring as the receiver got isolated and the Blues forwards earned a penalty right in front of the poles. Fly-half Otere Black added the three points to make it 8-7 halfway through the opening stanza.

The hosts finally opened up a lead after a sizzling try on the counter. The Lions had made good headway in the middle of the park but the Blues sent the ball out wide after a turnover. In-form winger Mark Talea faced a disjointed Lions defence and drew several defenders before passing to full-back Stephen Perofeta who ran an excellent support line.

Jantjies stemmed the tide somewhat with a three-pointer from close range, but it was all the Blues as the half came to a close. Camped on the Lions' line, flanker Ruan Vermaak failed an intercept. After much protest from the Blues and checking with the TMO, referee Marius van der Westhuizen deemed the attempt a deliberate knock-down and awarded a Penalty Try to the Blues. That made the score 22-10 as the players headed back down the Eden Park tunnel.

With the Lions down a forward, the Blues took advantage by opting for lineout drives, earning a couple penalties. The referee played advantage on the second penalty and the dangerous runners came flying at the Lions, with Blues captain Thomas Faiane showing superb skills to offload one handed, putting away flying Ioane who streaked over for his second.

Oozing with confidence, the Blues added a fifth try in quick-time. Lock Jacob Pierce scooped up a loose ball and attacked down the blindside. They showed superb handling to draw and pass on no less than five occasions in a small space, leaving the other tall piece of timber Gerard Cowley-Tuioti to go over untouched. Black added the extras and the score ballooned to 36-10.

Things calmed down after the Lions were finally returned to 15 men, but the Blues backline could not be contained forever. Scrum-half Sam Nock gave them impetus with a cheeky midfield break and after few phases, winger Matt Duffie drew two defenders on the nearside touchline and offloaded to No.8 Hoskins Sotutu who lumbered over for the try.

Blues - Tries: Ioane (2), Perofeta, Cowley-Tuioti, Sotutu. Conversions: Black (3), Plummer. Penalty: Black.

Lions - Try: Kriel. Conversion: Jantjies. Penalty: Jantjies. Yellow Card: Vermaak.

Blues: 15 Stephen Perofeta, 14 Matt Duffie, 13 Rieko Ioane, 12 Thomas Faiane (captain), 11 Mark Telea, 10 Otere Black, 9 Sam Nock, 8 Hoskins Sotutu, 7 Blake Gibson, 6 Dalton Papalii, 5 Jacob Pierce, 4 Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, 3 Sione Mafileo, 2 James Parsons, 1 Karl Tu’inukuafe.
Replacements: 16 Luteru Tolai, 17 Joe Walsh, 18 Marcel Renata, 19 Aaron Carroll/Sam Caird, 20 Akira Ioane, 21 Jonathan Ruru, 22 Harry Plummer, 23 Emoni Narawa.

Lions: 15 Tyrone Green, 14 Jamba Ulengo, 13 Manuel Rass 12 Daniel Kriel, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Elton Jantjies (captain), 9 Andre Warner, 8 Hacjivah Dayimani, 7 Ruan Vermaak, 6 Marnus Schoeman, 5 Marvin Orie, 4 Willem Alberts, 3 Frans van Wyk, 2 Jan-Henning Campher, 1 Dylan Smith.
Replacements: 16 Pieter Jansen, 17 Sithembiso Sithole, 18 Carlu Sadie 19 Wilhelm van der Sluys, 20 Len Massyn, 21 Morné van den Berg, 22 Shaun Reynolds, 23 Andries Coetzee.

Referee: Marius van der Westhuizen (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Jaco Peyper (South Africa), Ben O’Keeffe (New Zealand)
TMO: Glenn Newman (New Zealand)